President William Ruto’s digital secretary Dennis Itumbi has condemned the arrest of ODM die-hard Nuru Okanga over claims of insulting President William Ruto.
Okanga was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly abusing the President on YouTube on November 20, 2023.
He was on Thursday charged at a Milimani Law Court, jointly with others not before the court.
But in a statement on his X handle, Itumbi described the charges pressed against the ODM supporter as unwarranted adding that they were not sanctioned by President Ruto.
“I completely disagree with the idea of arresting bloggers for insulting the President. Whoever is doing it wacheni kabisa,” Itumbi said, adding that “There actually exists a right to offend, shock, or disturb”.
“I know for a fact that President William Ruto has serious stuff to do and is not interested in such drama and arrests, he does not even know about it. So, who exactly is the complainant? Wachaneni na bloggers, wajiexpress! Tafuteni kazi ingine.”
ODM’s Communication Director Philip Etale echoed the sentiments saying freedom of speech and expression is a constitutional provision.
“In Kenya, our forefathers and the second liberation agitators fought for the freedom of speech and expression. They are embedded in the Constitution. Arresting Nuru Okanga for speaking truth to power is unacceptable. He has the right to criticise anyone including the President,” he said.
The Penal Code makes it criminal for anyone to use threatening, abusive or insulting words or engage in provocative acts or breach of the peace.
If one is found guilty the penalty is a fine not exceeding Sh5,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or both.
For your conduct or language to be offensive, it must be calculated to wound the feelings, and arouse anger or resentment or disgust or outrage in the mind of a reasonable person.
Your conduct must also be placed in the context of all the surrounding circumstances.
Okanga is accused of publishing abusive statements against the President on the YouTube channel RIBA NEWS @ribanews at an unknown location.
The charge sheet indicated that he made unprintable words about Ruto knowing it to be false and calculated to discredit the reputation of a state officer and with intent to provoke a breach of the peace.
He denied the charges before Milimani Chief Magistrate Lucas Onyina and was released on Sh10,000 pending a pretrial on December 13.
Itumbi offered to deploy lawyer Waithera Kinuthiah to take up the matter at his cost if Okanga would allow it.
“Please wakili Waithera Kinuthiah, if Nuru Okanga agrees represent him in court at my cost,” he said.
But shortly after he was charged, Okanga posted an apology on his Facebook page.
“I was arrested because of exercising my constitutional rights. Apologies to those who were offended. May God bless Kenya. Peace,” he said.